Uber-ski bums hit Aspen slopes 100+ days despite conditions
OUT WIT A SCHNEETAG
What: Closing day and Schneetag at Aspen Highlands
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Base of Aspen Highlands
Event: Teams of four will pilot a homemade craft down the slope and into a pond
Etc.: Sunday is also closing day at Snowmass
There were at least 167 skiers and snowboarders who didn’t care if conditions on the slopes weren’t up to snuff this season.
Aspen Skiing Co. said 167 customers earned their 100-day pin — signifying 100 days on the slopes — as of April 2. That’s almost as many as the 174 people that qualified for the century pins as of April 2 last season, which started slightly earlier in November. The numbers are close even though snowpack was above average last season and below average this season.
The numbers don’t include ski instructors, patrollers, lifties and other Skico workers who hit the century mark.
More skiers and snowboarders are closing in on the century mark as the season draws to a close. The season ends Sunday at Snowmass and Aspen Highlands. Buttermilk closed April 4. Aspen Mountain will remain open through April 19.
The age of the skiers and snowboarders who topped 100 times on the slopes ranged from 19 to 78, according to Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle. There were four uber-ski bums who hit the slopes all 131 days as of April 2, he said.
Skico started giving out the 100-day pins in the late 2000s. Some skiers and snowboarders collect them as a source of pride. Others scorn the idea of tracking days on the slopes, contending that it misses the point.
One woman who frequents Aspen Mountain said skiing is more about quality than quantity for her. She rarely tracks how often she skis but got nagged into checking at the ticket office recently. She had hit the slopes more than 70 days despite a full-time, off-slope job.
Aspen resident Lorenzo Semple is unapologetic about striving for the 100-day pin. He collected his fifth this season and said he would have a sixth, but Skico ran out while distributing them in the first season of the program.
“You set your sights on it early in the year. It’s a carrot,” said Semple, who wrote a humor column about the 100-pin club in the Aspen Daily News on March 28.
He said it takes a lot of commitment to make the time to get to the slopes that many days, regardless of conditions. He never dogs it by making a token appearance on the slopes, he said. Occasionally, he will make a bowl lap at Aspen Highlands and call it a day if the conditions aren’t so great, but people who ski nearly every day tend to think conditions are always great, he noted.
The achievement triggers an immediate sense of accomplishment but also a quick realization that few people really care how much you skied, he quipped.
“Some people think it’s a stupid thing,” Semple said. Many critics don’t ski, and see the outdoor pursuit as a selfish sport. For other people, cracking 100 days is a critical part of their season.
Semple said he has topped 120 days so far this season. He collected his pin when he topped 100.
“I wear ’em right when I get ’em,” he said.
He keeps the pins with old ski passes and other memorabilia on a wall of fame. It’s a good way to document living, skiing and aging in Aspen, he said.
Todd Shaver hit 98 days of skiing Thursday and said he will easily crack the 100-day barrier. He said he skied every day of two consecutive seasons a few years ago, hitting 150 days one season and 156 the next.
Shaver said 100 days makes for a good milestone.
“It’s a nice, round number,” he said.
He collects his pins and appreciates that Skico acknowledges the feat, but he won’t flash it.
“The pin isn’t a big deal,” he said. “I don’t wear it around town.”
Semple said the only other people who notice the pin he wears are other people shooting for the same goal.
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Virtual X Fest is an immersive, interactive environment (a sort of fantasy version of Buttermilk) aimed at giving a taste of the on-site X Games experience to fans that isn’t available this year.